A pair of detectives investigates the murder of an elderly millionaire who was the target of blackmail and death threats and find that there is no shortage of suspects, many of them in the victim's own family.
Two reclusive, rich old men, brothers and wards of their niece, Elsa Carson (Irene Ware)are very protective of their own affairs and also keep a close eye on Elsa. One of them, Henry Carson (William V. Mong), is murdered and his brother, sister, and household servants all come under suspicion. Elsa enlists the aid of a private detective, Jim Landis (Ray Walker, she has met and is falling in love with. Jim, in turn, solicits help from an older, retired detective, Paul Bernard (Berton Churchill). Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Some genuinely inspired bad acting doesn't prevent 1936's "The Dark House" from showering a few sparks of real originality. Two elderly brothers and their niece reside in a mansion. They're fearful something bad will happen and they're right. Two murders take place, neither appearing to have occurred as first thought.
This is a good house murder mystery. Elsa (the very beautiful and former Miss United States, Irene Ware) is falling in love with a detective, Jim Landis (Ray Walker). Elsa regularly meets Jim at retired detective Paul Bernard's house (he's played by Burton Churchill). Elsa's putative guardians, her uncles, don't like this developing match one bit. Of course their time together is as chaste as many moviegoers (and the moralistic censor-type folks) demanded.
One death having led to another, the two sleuths wisely combine forces to find the killer and figure out why the murders occurred in the first place. The plot is a bit tricky. Adding to the mystery is the possible role of Elsa's aunt, Mrs. Tallman. Here is a real treat-she's Hedda Hopper, once dubbed the "Queen of the Quickies," a woman who made a number of forgettable features before discovering that the printed word was mightier than fleeting celluloid images. For decades she and Louella Parsons battled for scoops as Hollywood's prime, incendiary gossip columnists.
Walker is the really weak actor here. He performs with a deadening numbness that made me wish he was the killer who would be executed on-screen. But his interaction with the retired senior cop is both interesting and dramatically effective.
Charles Lamont, born in Russia, was a veteran director who turned out many "B" flicks and some better comedies during a very long career (he did a number of the Abbott and Costello and Ma and Pa Kettle flicks). He's famously forgotten today for such films as the deservedly rarely viewed "I Was a Shoplifter" that brought young Tony Curtis to the screen. In "The Dark Hour" he crafted an interesting murder mystery. If you can get it as I did for $4.99 on DVD (thanks again, Alpha Video) it's worth your time just to see Hedda Hopper disporting herself as a grand dame but maybe I'm just dating myself.
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